Book VII

Thou too, Æneas’ nurse of yore,
In death hast glorified our shore,
Caieta, honoured dame:
Still memory haunts thy place of rest:
Marked by thy name, thy relics blest
In the great country of the west
Repose—if that be fame.
But good Æneas, soon as paid
Due tribute to the well-loved shade
And funeral mound upreared,
Waits till the seas grow calm at eve,
Then spreads his sail, constrained to leave
The haven, thus endeared.
The breezes freshen toward the night,
Nor doth the moon refuse
Her guiding lamp: its tremulous light
The glancing deep bestrews.
Next, skirting still the shore, they run
Fair Circe’s magic coast along,
Where she, bright daughter of the sun,
Her forest fastness thrills with song,
And for a nightly blaze consumes
Rich cedar in her stately rooms,
While, sounding shrill, the comb is sped
From end to end adown the thread.
Thence hear they many a midnight roar:
The lion strives to burst his cell:
The raging bear, the foaming boar
Alternate with the gaunt wolf’s yell:
Whom from the human form divine
For malice’ sake the ruthless queen
Had changed by pharmacy malign
To bristly hide and bestial mien.
So lest the pious Trojan train
Such dire enormity sustain,
The harbour should they reach, or land
On that inhospitable strand,
The Ocean-god inflates their sails
With breath of favourable gales,
And speeds their flight, and bears them safe
Where angry waves no longer chafe.

The sea was reddening with the dawn:
The queen of morn on high
Was seen in rosy chariot drawn
Against a saffron sky,
When on the bosom of the deep
The Zephyrs dropped at once to sleep,
And, struck with calm, the tired oars strain
Against the smooth unmoving main.
Now from the deep Æneas sees
A mighty grove of glancing trees.
Embowered amid the silvan scene
Old Tiber winds his banks between,
And in the lap of ocean pours
His gulfy stream, his sandy stores.
Around, gay birds of diverse wing,
Accustomed there to fly or sing,
Were fluttering on from spray to spray
And soothing ether with their lay.
He bids his comrades turn aside
And landward set each vessel’s head,
And enters in triumphant pride
The river’s shadowy bed.

Be with me, Goddess, while I tell
What chiefs bore rule, what deeds befel,
What Latium’s early time, before
The stranger landed on her shore,
And wake the memory of the feud
Which first her arms in blood imbued.
O be the poet’s guide, and aid
His recollection, heavenly maid!
I sing of war’s tempestuous tide,
Of kings who perished in their pride,
The Tyrrhene chivalry, and all
Hesperia roused by battle’s call.
A loftier task the bard essays:
The horizon broadens on his gaze.

Latinus, old at length and grey,
O’er town and realm held peaceful sway,
Born of a nymph of Latian race
From kingly Faunus’ loved embrace.
Picus was Faunus’ sire; and he,
Great Saturn, owes his birth to thee.
No manly heir, so Heaven decreed,
Preserved in life the royal seed;
E’en as it rose, in youth’s fair day
That progeny was reft away.
One daughter stood to guard the throne,
To bridal age already grown:
Full many a prince from Latian land
And all Ausonia sought her hand,
Young Turnus chief, to kings allied
And comelier far than all beside,
Much favoured of the queen, who strove
With earnest zeal to speed his love:
But prodigies with dire alarms
Deny the maiden to his arms.
Within the palace’ centre bred
An ancient tree of laurel stood:
Long years of reverential dread
Had gathered round its sacred wood:
Men say ’twas by Latinus found
When first he traced the castle’s bound:
He reared it from his native sod,
Devoted to the Delphian god,
And taught his setters thence to claim
For their new town Laurentum’s name.
To its high top a swarm of bees
Came warping on the summer breeze:
And, linking feet with feet, they sway
In pendent cluster from the spray.
‘A stranger comes,’ exclaimed the seer,
‘A foreign host: I see them near:
The same the quarter of their flight,
The same the region where they light:
E’en now in plenitude of power
They hold the city’s topmost tower.’
Then too, as standing by her sire
Lavinia tends the altar-fire,
Her tresses—prodigy untold—
Catch the fierce flame with eager hold,
And on her beauteous head-tire preys
The crackling stream of torrent blaze.
Her royal locks are all alight,
Her coronal with jewels bright:
Till, wrapt in smoke and glare, she showers
Live sparkles through the palace bowers.
With mingled wonder and affright
The boding seers proclaimed the sight:
Her fame, they said, should proudly blaze
A streaming light to after days,
But dim should be the nation’s star,
O’erclouded by a mighty war.

The king by prodigies distraught,
His father Faunus’ temple sought,
A sacred grove displayed to sight
Beneath Albunea’s frowning height,
Which echoes with a brawling stream,
And breathes aloft sulphureous steam.
Hither œnotria’s tribes repair,
To seek Heaven’s help in man’s despair:
Then, when the minister divine
Has placed the offering on the shrine,
And, seeking sleep, at midnight lain
On the stripped skins of cattle slain,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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